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Archive for April, 2010

Here we are, on the 32nd anniversary of my wondrous birth. And… it’s raining. Oh well. At least it’s on a Friday! I haven’t done much this week as far as packing because I had to do scholarship interviews Monday night, and lessons Tuesday and Wednesday night. Also, my evenings were somewhat occupied by this:  … about a million (okay, maybe not that many) cake balls I was making for goody day at school. In my typically crazy fashion, I wanted to make four batches because my biggest fear is always that there won’t be enough food. Well, I lost steam after three batches and decided that I wouldn’t have enough Tupperware to transport another one anyway. Three was actually perfect, though. I had plenty for everyone at school and there were even some leftovers. Here are some close-ups of the goodies:

These were strawberry cake with strawberry frosting. Since I used boxed cake and canned frosting, the strawberry flavor was, how shall I say… somewhat artificial? Bordering on the flavor of Wild Strawberry Bubblicious. But once the chocolate was on them it wasn’t as pronounced.

These little babies were red velvet, which is a crowd favorite. The red velvet cake is sort of vaguely chocolaty,  so they are rich but not overly so.

These were peanut butter cake balls- using peanut butter with the frosting changes the texture of the filling a little bit, but the peanut butter people were very enthusiastic about these.  After I finished making all of them I thought, “I think I’m done dipping things in chocolate for a while.” But really, who am I kidding? If I didn’t have a ton of stuff to do today I could make another batch. I find the whole process to be totally addicting.

Last night we went out to Kwan Thai for my birthday dinner, which I would highly recommend. We had this delicious spicy soup, appetizers and for my dinner I had scallops green curry. Then I had this very odd but tasty dessert that was sort of a Thai version of rice pudding- made with this really chewy purple rice and covered in coconut milk. And I don’t have pictures of any of it, because I forgot my camera. Oh well.

On the condo front, things seem to be moving along. Early in the week we were worried that the sellers weren’t going to fix all of the things that we requested in the contract, but apparently it was just the seller’s lawyer who was holding things up. The sellers fixed the valve on the boiler, had the whole thing serviced and as far as I know, fixed the other things I requested also. Yippee!

The appraisal was also this week, so hopefully I’ll hear favorable results from that too. Okay, one more cup of coffee and then I have to jump back into packing.

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Katie is my hero!

I’ve been diligently packing for the last few days, moving boxes down to my laundry room once they were done, and along the way I found lots of stuff to give to the Goodwill. Honestly, some of it totally would have gotten purchased at a yard sale, but it’s so much easier just to get rid of it.

My living room was starting to look out of control, though- so I had to call in the heavy artillery: my friend Katie, who love love loves to organize and has been dying to give my apartment a master cleanse for ages. All I really wanted to do was have her help me bring stuff to the Goodwill today, but of course Katie always goes above and beyond. She flipped the seats down in her Matrix and said she wasn’t leaving until her car was full. And when I say full, I mean FULL. Like, Tetris-style, every corner, stuffed to the ceiling full.

So much stuff that it looked like there shouldn’t be anything left in my apartment. We attacked the bedroom and filled up a few more garbage bags while she was here. Guess what? There’s still a ton of stuff in my apartment. It’s kind of scary to think that she filled her car, clown-style, with with so much stuff and it’s all things I had to get rid of. But I haven’t even gotten to the best part of the story yet. After we loaded up her car, Katie insisted that she take it to Goodwill alone because I had an appointment at 3:30 for my taxes.

So I just got to wave goodbye to all of that junk. Isn’t she awesome??

P.S. I’m still considering those canisters. We’ll see how the tax appointment goes first. Hopefully I don’t owe too much money, and I can make a trip to Target. This time next year will be a whole different story. Yeah!

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I’m wondering when it’s going to actually start to look like I have packed up my belongings. The problem is, so much stuff lives in cabinets and closets that I’m not seeing the results of the packing. It just seems like there’s an endless source of crap for me to sort through (which there pretty much is.) Today I went through my Tupperware cabinet, which looks like a disaster on a good day- basically a precarious pile of containers and haphazard lids… and every time I open it a plastic projectile comes flying out at me.  I sorted through it to make sure I had matching lids to everything (which was oddly sort of fun) and got rid of a few things. I also filled another bag for Goodwill.

Is it bad that I packed the five ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’ tubs? Or the ricotta cheese containers? I have definitely inherited my mother’s need to have extra ‘to go’ items. Also, I find it damn near impossible to part with real Tupperware. As long as everything had the correct accompanying lids, it stayed…

Maybe tomorrow I will go through the linen closet, and if that goes well, the scary dumping-ground-huge-I-have-no-idea-what-is-actually-in-there closet.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it) while I was in Target today I realized that although I already have a canister set for my kitchen, I could use the super cute Liberty of London canisters in one of my bathrooms instead. Don’t worry, Mom. I didn’t buy them yet. I know it would be silly to buy more things I’ll need to pack. And who knows? Maybe by the time I’m moved in they’ll be on clearance. Or they could be gone forever. 😦 I don’t know if that’s a chance I can take. Those canisters would be excellent for cotton balls and Q-tips. (am I making it clear enough how easily I manage to convince myself I need things? If you are easily swayed, you should never shop with me. You’ll end up buying way too much.)

Maybe if I manage to pack up the linen closet and part of the scary closet tomorrow and drop off stuff at Goodwill before I have my taxes done (yay- NOT!) I can reward myself with the super cute canisters. We’ll see.

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Packing begins…

I found out today that the sellers of my condo did indeed sign the contract (woo hoo!) and the appraisal will be ordered in a couple days. I’m crossing my fingers that it appraises high enough so I don’t have to give up my seller’s concession. I started packing some of the boxes that I took from Mom and Dad, but I’m a little worried that the small U-haul boxes will be too heavy filled with books. I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s heavy for me- since big burly moving men will be the ones carrying them, but I might look into the ‘media’ boxes for books and cds/dvds.

It was a freakishly hot April day today (over 90 degrees) and it made me dream about the luxurious central air I have in my future. Don’t get me wrong, I love my apartment. It’s got a ton of storage and character, it’s quiet and close to work… but it turns into a sweat box in the summer. Although, if I hadn’t been confined to the few air-conditioned square feet of my bedroom last summer, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours in front of my computer monitor discovering LOST (which is now one of my favorite shows ever.) So I guess there is a bright side to everything. 🙂

Speaking of TV, today I also took great pleasure in calling Cablevision to let them know I would be canceling service in May. I think Cablevision quite possibly might be the worst cable provider of all time, and I will either go with Verizon Fios or Direct TV. I honestly considered ditching cable all together because I’m so happy to stream Netflix to my TV, but I don’t know that I could happily lead a life without the Food Network.

Alright, I guess it’s time to go pack another box or two…

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Happy Easter!

Here are the easter eggs we made this morning using the technique posted here. Mom and I made these last year too and were so pleased with the results that we decided to do it again. And honestly, it almost takes less time than dipping eggs in the old Paas kits. Also, here is an update on how the Froggy Mo-Fo cake turned out (sorry for the poor quality, but it was shot from a cellphone.)

As you can see, Kim did a great job finishing with that star tip. I like how the improvised arm is a little bit beefy, kind of like Trogdor. Anyway, I can’t imagine her guests weren’t impressed. Pam’s birthday cake was also well-received (and tasty, I might add!) I always have an irrational fear that my cakes are going to look better than they taste- that I left out an ingredient or it’s not totally cooked. It’s also especially nerve-wracking when the cake in question is a birthday cake and everyone has just sung “Happy Birthday” around the thing and stares at it while the first slice is cut. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m a fan of cupcakes. It allows me to sample my handiwork before everyone else.

Before the cake, (and cake balls, and Greek pastries) we definitely had quite the Easter feast here in Ithaca. I was pretty much eating nonstop from 2:30 to 7:30 and way too much of the food I ate was pure cheese. Combine the great meal with fact that I actually got to go for a walk and relax in the astoundingly sunny, perfect weather… and it was a downright excellent day.

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Well, here I am in Ithaca and it has been a productive weekend, cake-wise. I got off to a late start yesterday- didn’t leave nearly as early as I wanted to so I went straight to Kim’s house to work on ‘Froggy’. After pleasantries and a couple cake balls, we got to work. First, we mixed up the royal icing and piped a million little flowers and some flies. The flowers have tiny fondant centers and the flies’ wings are waxed paper.

Next, we got to work mixing the buttercream and tinting various colors for the base of the cake (which, thankfully, had been baked in advance.) It didn’t look exactly like the picture from the Wilton website, but it was certainly passable. Then, we had to tint the fondant, cut a lily pad out of cardboard and cover the cardboard with the aforementioned fondant. Dowels went into the cake to stabilize. I didn’t take a picture of this process- not too exciting. Next, we put the 3D frog on top of the lily pad. I was a little concerned because the frog has a cone in the middle of it to hollow it out during cooking, and the cone drifted so that one side of the frog was much thinner than the other.

The 3D mold is actually for a teddy bear- you have to add flippers made from butter cream and turn the ears into eyeballs. Once I did that, I started to work on piping with the teensy tiny star tip all over the frog. My goal was to get the trickiest parts covered and deal with the arms so Kim could do the rest. Unfortunately, one of the arms (on the weaker side of the cake) didn’t want to stay in place, so I Macgyvered a new arm out of extra cake and had the frog rest his hand on his leg. I was pleased that we averted cake tragedy and I actually thought it looked cute:

This was how it looked when I left- I haven’t seen any completed pictures so I’m hoping that Kim didn’t have any last-minute disasters.

Most normal people would be ‘caked out’ after four hours with the mo-fo frog, but I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to tackle a 50th birthday cake for tomorrow night. I hope the birthday girl likes carrot cake with cream cheese frosting as much as I do. I tend to lean towards any cake that lends itself to cream cheese frosting- carrot, pumpkin, red velvet… let’s just say that when I’m working with butter cream I have no problem putting down the spatula in the sink and walking away, but when there’s cream cheese frosting involved it’s all I can do to not stick my face directly into the mixing bowl.

Anyway, I digress. I decided to try my hand at a basket weave pattern on the top. Luckily, we had tons of leftover drop flowers from the froggy cake, so I used all of those too. While the cake was cooling I made some flower cut-outs and a ’50’ out of gum paste that I tinted pink. It’s a super girly cake and I’m really pleased with it:

I can’t wait to unveil it tomorrow night. I love making special birthday cakes for people. P.S. the basket weave was way easier than you would think. Definitely try it!

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Cold pizza

I’m sitting here at 7:30 am eating a slice of cold pizza and waiting for my coffee to brew. It’s the last 3 days of spring break and finally the weather is nice. I’m driving up to Ithaca today to see Mom and Dad and the weather is even going to be nice there. I’m looking around my apartment and I’m not too pleased with myself that I managed to accomplish so little this week (Laundry? Packing? Goodwill drop off?) yet watch an entire season of 30 Rock and make two different kinds of cake balls. Oh well, I guess. This week was my last chance at relaxation before June, so at least I made the most of it!

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